It is the beginning of the end for Australia's much loved squadrons of frontline jet fighters.
Australia's F/A-18A/B Classic Hornets. are being replaced progressively by the Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35A.
The last F/A-18A/B Classic Hornets to undergo deeper maintenance servicing have rolled out of the Boeing Defence Australia facility at RAAF Base Williamtown in NSW.
The fleet of 75 Classic Hornet aircraft were introduced into service in 1985 and will see 36 years' service by the planned withdrawal in December 2021.
Australia is spending an estimated $17 billion on 72 of the F-35A aircraft.
Williamtown and the Tindal RAAF Base near Katherine in the NT will host four squadrons by 2023.
Tindal's 75 Squadron is expected to begin conversion to the new jets in January 2022 to achieve final operational capability by the end of 2023.
There is an early plan to host one of the retired Hornets at the Katherine Museum.
Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price said 150 jobs in the Hunter region had been supported through this important work.
"This was the 163rd and final deeper maintenance servicing for the Air Force Classic Hornet fleet since 2013," Minister Price said.
"These operations have generated an additional 140,000 flying hours for the Classic Hornets and also contributed $200 million to the Australian economy."
Deeper maintenance servicing on the Classic Hornet will no longer be required as the capability is progressively replaced by the F-35A Lightning II aircraft.
The first F-35A aircraft have already been delivered from the US with Australia's full complement of
"To secure these local Hunter jobs, Boeing will continue to provide logistics, engineering and maintenance support through to the planned withdrawal date of December 2021," Minister Price said.
"Boeing will also assist Defence to prepare retired Classic Hornet aircraft for heritage display within Australia and potential sale to foreign customers.
"This continued effort will assist in retaining a highly skilled Hunter region aviation workforce until there is a requirement for F-35A Lightning II sustainment which will also be based at RAAF Base Williamtown."
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